This is a rant. A truly angry one.
I returned from Kumbh/rafting to have my friend Kundan ask me "have you heard about the latest Shashi Tharoor scandal?" No, I hadn't. I turned on our 'trusted' news channels, the ever useless bunch, and found myself in front of the telly for the most part of the day. I needed to catch up on news, you see.
I was bombarded with images of Shashi Tharoor; how he "may" have used Sunanda Pushkar as a "proxy", a woman who he is "friends" with and influenced investors to choose Kochi as an IPL team. Then the anchor went to the ever useful 'reporter on the ground' to ask, "Do you have any updates?" -- "No, none" -- Anchor: "Well, there you have it, no updates and no real information. Breaking news people, we are as lazy and useless as ever!"
The point is this: I don't know or care that Tharoor is guilty. It is the job of the media to tell me the story, not the million allegations they are throwing back and forth. News channels are not meant to gossip central, but no one has told our wonderful editors that.
At night, my own parents, normally really smart people, were on this anti-Tharoor kick. "Arrogant, tweets... " blah blah. I asked them if they had read his tweets or press release, or anything beyond the tv news story. They hadn't. I got angry, but then realised, how many times must I have done this? Trusted by news channel only to be fooled into an opinion by lazy journalism.
The more I think about it: I don't understand the media. And the media doesn't understand the story.
NOW - they ask, where is this IPL money coming from? For three years, they have given (what I assume is free) publicity to IPL, Lalit Modi and the whole gang because it was fancy, fun, had glitz and glamor. All the journalists, who keep having award shows to celebrate eachother, never once asked the tough questions -- where is the money coming from? how are they claiming to make profits? where did the Sahara group find money?
Editors like Rajdeep Sardesai (the most guilty in my view) keep writing columns and tweets lamenting the state of the Indian media and when will it improve, while actively doing nothing but chasing TRPs? We've trusted him, Barkha, Arnab etc etc and allowed them into our living rooms for hours on end, listening to them and their 'expert' commentary. I trust my lawyer, banker, waxing woman for god's sake, so I should be able to trust my anchors.
But I can't now, can I? For every Tharoor, Sania-Shoaib blah blah... they behave more like a gossip column than real news. There are countless stories across India -- good and bad -- that need to be in a news line up. Yes, they will cost money and physical effort to go cover, and you might need to leave an AC studio to do so. But they are important to India. It seems that Tharoor may or may not have had something good or bad to do with the IPL and that Lalit Modi might have allowed shady money into IPL is far more important to India and Indians than the home minister addressing Dantewada in Lok Sabha. Sometimes I thank my stars for Doordarshan and NewsX, the only channels who give you a range of stories, instead of parking themselves in a living room in Hyderabad for a whole day.
We need new people in charge of our news channels because it seems like our current guards have failed us. This is a plea. Please do your duty. Don't chase TRPs and easy reporting, but fight the good fight. Serve the country. I know that has nothing to do with getting nominated to Rajya Sabha or winning India's highest civilian honor. But for yourself and for us.
NEWS. Not opinion. Not gossip. Not allegations. NEWS. Please, please, please.